David Saker has revealed his delight at the emergence of Chris Tremlett as a lethal weapon in Test cricket.
England’s bowling coach looked on with pride at the Rose Bowl yesterday as the 6ft 7in fast bowler closed in on a career-best return.
Tremlett’s Test best six for 42 helped reduce Sri Lanka to 177 for nine before torrential rain saw play abandoned at 4.56pm.
Just 24.2 overs were possible on the second day of Hampshire’s inaugural Test match but it was enough for the England paceman to further confirm his international quality.
Saker was first excited by Tremlett’s talent when he saw him bowl at Kevin Pietersen during a net session at the Oval two years ago.
And while previous regimes had become frustrated with the former Hampshire star’s injury record and perceived lack of aggression, the Australian coach was convinced Test cricket would bring out the best in him.
Saker said: ‘I just saw him bowl in the nets at the Oval once and after watching two balls I walked up to Andy Flower (England manager) and said this guy is a Test cricketer.
‘I don’t know much about what has gone on in the past but I thought if we could keep this guy on the park he would play good Test cricket. I had no hesitation.
‘He obviously had to get his body right but over the past 12 months he has shown a lot of people in England that he can do the job.’
Tremlett’s previous best haul as a professional cricketer of six for 44 came in a Hampshire shirt against Sussex at Hove.
But that feat will be under threat when play resumes this morning.
Some pundits have been quick to compare him to West Indian great Joel ‘Big Bird’ Garner, the 6ft 8in Barbadian who took 259 Test wickets at 20.97 from 1977-87.
But while Saker has been mightily impressed by his charge, he reckons it could be a little early to draw such heady comparisons.
‘He has got a lot of attributes a lot like Joel Garner, I suppose,’ said the former Victoria and Tasmania bowler who replaced Ottis Gibson as England bowling coach in April last year.
‘Chris has got a lot of height and gets a lot of bounce but it is a big call to start comparing him to Joel.
‘He has just been a fantastic bowler for us but he still needs to keep improving.
‘He’s had some spells which haven’t been quite right, as we saw at Lord’s, but he has bounced back in this game and shown how good he really is.
‘That is one of the most pleasing things for me.
‘He has adjusted his lengths according to the wicket here and that is not always the easiest thing to do.
‘Unfortunately, in Test cricket you are not going to get the same wicket every week and that is the challenge which faces all of our bowlers.
‘But Chris has proved to a lot of people he belongs in Test cricket.
‘When he gets his lengths right he is a huge handful.
‘He has just been exceptional over the past 12 months.’